A follow-up from: Office Communications Can Leave A Bitter Taste
When relationships are strong, they can endure difficult 2-way communications. When they are not, the challenge is greater. The key to managing difficult office communications can be found in building strong, cohesive, constructive relationships. Consider the following strategies:
- Have set scheduled meetings where team-building activities constitute a component of the time. Ex. At a staff meeting (in a non-real estate setting), I had to inform staff of new mandates that had to be implemented. The staff were appropriately upset due to the nature of the mandates. One staff member suggested what initially came across as silly to the rest of the team. Each person would share with the group what their favorite color was. Once everyone was done, each would share their favorite food. Then their favorite movie, their favorite joke...After sharing several laughs, the team was in a better position to frankly discuss their upset feelings and strategize around how best to implement these new work requirements. We left that room a stronger and better team.
- Don't allow upset feelings to build up and grow. Make efforts to address upsetting events/ communications in ‘real time'. At the very lease, once you are calmer and not ‘in an emotional state of mind'. Defensive communications lead to mis-communications and defensive responses.
- Every situation can have a positive perspective, if nothing else- it may provide a ‘learning moment'. Seek out that perspective. Ex. You share with a colleague that you're working on getting a seller to list with you. Later you find out that colleague brings the listing into the office. You learn a little about that colleague as well as how the head of the office will handle a situation like that. Plan future exchanges of information accordingly. What's the positive perspective in this? What's positive is the ethical/moral standards that you bring to your work-space- an attribute not everyone possesses, but many admire. You can be a model for others.
- Find what colleagues respond to. Cater to that. I've developed great relationships with people others have found to be rather difficult. Recall that snappy administrative assistant. She (he) likes truffles did she (he)? Consider a small gift after that closing check gets to you. You two have a favorite TV show in common. Forget the work topics for now. Build that relationship with some good TV chatter.
- Patience, objectivity and charity: Patience is required to build relationships, especially with difficult personalities or colleagues who bring challenging work habits into your office space. Objectivity means do not personalize difficult interactions. It may not be about you, but more about your colleague. Visualize yourself being a mirror. What is in it is not your image, but what a colleague may be projecting onto you. Let it reflect back on the person producing the image/behavior. Charity here is defined as your offer to help others when in need. This can go a long way with others.
- If communications are not two-way and constructive, adopt the role of listener.
- Use humor and empathy to help ‘heal the wounded'. Share the love when possible. Remember that school-yard bully? Worked better than other approaches didn't it?
As an office begins to develop a more cohesive and constructive atmosphere, guess what the ‘odd man out' will want to do? This all said, it is not meant to deny the significance of the role of the office head. I once had a rather difficult administrative assistant bestow me with some insight that remains with me today: She shared, "There's an old Italian saying- Fish smells from the head down". When this is the case, one may have to do some ‘managing upwards' to change that fishy head to a new perspective- something like: It's the blossoms that spreads the aroma over the flower bed.
Happy relationship building fellow AR'ers.